The ‘Philosophy of Performance’ and the Performance of Philosophy


  • Andrew Bowie Royal Holloway University of London



The notion of the 'philosophy of x', which has recently tended to become part of many subjects, from music to management, tends to obscure a range of important issues. The idea behind it seems to be that, by designating one's reflections on a subject as the ‘philosophy’ of whatever it is one is reflecting about, one achieves some kind of higher insight. Such an approach arguably grants too much to a subject whose main manifestation is actually endless disagreement on fundamental issues. In the light of this less flattering view of philosophy I want to suggest that we may sometimes achieve more by thinking of some of our practices, particularly in the aesthetic domain, as manifestations of what philosophy might become, rather than just thinking of those practices as objects of philosophical analysis.

Author Biography

Andrew Bowie, Royal Holloway University of London

[email protected]

Andrew Bowie is Professor of Philosophy and German at Royal Holloway University of London. Bowie’s research is concerned with core issues in modern philosophy, particularly those explored by the German tradition from Kant to the present. He does not see the philosophical issues in question as separable from other key cultural responses to the problems of the modern world, and has written extensively about music and literature as well as philosophy. His books are: Aesthetics and Subjectivity: from Kant to Nietzsche (First edition 1990, second edition 2003, Spanish edition 1996; Iranian edition 2008, Chinese edition planned); Schelling and Modern European Philosophy. An Introduction; Introduction to, edition and translation of F.W.J. von Schelling, On the History of Modern Philosophy; From Romanticism to Critical Theory. The Philosophy of German Literary Theory (Iranian edition planned); Introduction to and Editor of Manfred Frank, The Subject and the Text: Essays in Literary Theory and Philosophy; Introduction to, edition and translation of F.D.E. Schleiermacher, Hermeneutics and Criticism and Other Writings; Introduction toGerman Philosophy from Kant to Habermas (which was enthusiastically endorsed by Jürgen Habermas); Music, Philosophy, and Modernity;German Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Arabic edition planned); Philosophical Variations: Music as ‘Philosophical Language’; Adorno and the Ends of Philosophy has just been published by Polity Press.

He is an active jazz musician (saxophone), who has played with some of Britain’s top jazz musicians, and is supervising theses on jazz and philosophy.


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How to Cite

Bowie, Andrew. 2015. “The ‘Philosophy of Performance’ and the Performance of Philosophy”. Performance Philosophy 1 (1):51-58.



Performance Philosophy - Pasts, Presents, Futures